TOM PIERCE, ATTORNEY AT LAW, LLLC land conservation, nonprofits, philanthropy, property law, land use

Conservation means harmony between mean and land. When land does well for its owner, the owner does well by his land; when both end up better by reason of their partnership, we have conservation. When one or the other grows poorer, we do not.

— Aldo Leopold,

The Farmer as a Conservationist, 1939

As soon as individuals with a cause have found one another out, they combine. From that moment, they are no longer isolated people, but a power seen from afar, whose actions serve as an example and whose language is listened to.

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 1840

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The radicals are the people who are fundamentally altering the composition of the atmosphere. That is the most radical thing people have ever done. Bill McKibben (


Ti Leaf Express is a blog published by the Law Office of Tom Pierce. Our goal is to provide pithy -- and like our namesake, diverse, useful (and sometimes inspirational) -- content in the areas of land conservation, nonprofits, and philanthropy, with a specific focus on Hawaii.


Nonprofits: We’ve added an easy reference and link to all sections of the Hawaii Nonprofit Corporations Act (HRS Chapter 414D)

We’ve just completed a web page dedicated to the Hawaii Nonprofit Corporations Act, Hawaii Revised Statutes Chapter 414D. This page makes it easy to scroll through titles and jump to a specific section of the statute. (The actual statute sections are maintained by the State of Hawaii. We provide quick links to them.) Every Hawaii nonprofit should have one person on its board who is somewhat familiar with the issues and areas covered in this nonprofit statute.  If your nonprofit’s governing documents do not cover a particular issue, the statute’s relevant section will ordinarily control. In the weeks to come, we will be highlighting some of the most important Hawaii nonprofit statutory provisions. We hope you find this new source helpful.

Apply the Starbucks Growth Model to a Nonprofit Eye Bank and See What Happens — Impressive Public Benefits!

We love this story for two reasons: First, we see bold private sector ideas applied to nonprofits. Second, we see parts of the franchise concept used to duplicate good management practices at this nonprofit on a world-wide basis. Here is an excerpt from the NPR transcript:

Creating efficiency Schottman is a relative newcomer to the world of eye banks. Until 2008, he worked for Starbucks, where he learned a lot about taking an idea, scaling it up and making it work in a lot of countries and cultures. His background would prove invaluable to SightLife. The Seattle-based nonprofit was already sending excess corneal tissue to eye banks abroad. But it wasn’t making a dent in the global problem of corneal blindness. SightLife President Monty Montoya wanted to change that. Continue reading

Hawaii Attorney General Files Suit Against Animal Rights Activist

Here’s an unfortunate story that just hit the news. According to the article, the Hawaii Attorney General is alleging this person/organization failed to obtain federal tax exempt status, failed to account for charitable use of funds, and failed to register with the state for charitable solicitations. This last requirement is particularly easy to overlook. Check out our article posted last fall, FIVE CRITICAL ACTIONS HAWAII NONPROFITS SHOULD REVIEW NOW, which includes a link to the Hawaii nonprofit charity registration site.

Social Entrepreneurs Making a Difference — Two More Stories

These stories are great because they show so well the difference one person can make.

The first story is particularly inspirational because it tells of Mark Goldsmith, a retired executive, who helps young inmates turn their lives around by giving them some basic job interview skills. The results of his work in reducing recidivism in the jail are powerful. Hear the NPR story.

The second story is one you may have heard. Your average traveler (Blake Mycoskie) goes to a third world country, sees the kids have no shoes, comes back home, and decides to do something about it — in this case by starting a shoe company that gives away a pair of shoes for every pair of shoes purchased. Hear the NPR story.

“Fundamental Five” (Nonprofit Capacity Training Workshop Series on Maui/Molokai)

The Fundamental Five Non-Profit Training Series is Grants Central Station’s latest program. Through a generous grant from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) and the County of Maui, GCS is offering a series of FREE workshops on the islands of Maui and Moloka`i. These workshops provide hands- on learning to improve the following areas critical to non-profit management: Financial Literacy &Bookkeeping Fundraising & Development Strategic Planning & Process Improvement Non-Profit Legal & Insurance Issues Managing & Training Volunteers Board Development. Click here for the full list of upcoming dates, subjects and registration. Tom Pierce will speaking at the Legal workshop, scheduled on Maui for February 22, 2011, and on Molokai for March 2, 2011.

Redefining Corporate Philanthropy . . . in a Recession

From U.S. News and World Report: “Not long ago, corporate philanthropy didn’t involve much more than writing a check to United Way or the local opera. Nowadays that’s changing. Blame corporate shareholders for tightening the purse strings, or credit Barack Obama and an entire generation raised on public service. All are forcing companies to get creative, to focus on making more of a difference while spending less cash.” Read the story.

The Imminent Merger of Four Hawaii Land Trusts Is National News

Many Ti Leaf Express readers already know that merger is near for four Hawaii land trusts — Maui Coastal Land Trust, Hawaii Island Land Trust, Kauai Land Trust and Oahu Land Trust. The Winter 2011 issue of Land Trust Alliance’s magazine, Saving Land, includes an article entitled “Managing Mergers — How to Combine Forces to Boost Finances and Capacity,” that discusses the merger, as well as providing good general guidance for all nonprofits.

The Harry Potter Alliance — A Possibly Great Idea for Nonprofits to Replicate to Engage Younger Generations

From NPR: “There are so many of us who love Harry Potter and want to do more for our world,” Slack told an audience of several hundred at a recent HPA event in Somerville, Mass., that marked the group’s fifth anniversary. About 100,000 Harry Potter fans have been mobilized by HPA for causes including marriage equality, genocide prevention and literacy. They raised enough money to send five cargo planes to Haiti bearing medical supplies after the earthquake there, and they’ve bought thousands of books for libraries in Rwanda and the Mississippi Delta. “This is a powerful new model for getting young people involved in the political process,” says Prof. Henry Jenkins, who’s written about the phenomenon he’s dubbed “Avatar activism.” (The term comes from YouTube videos of Palestinian demonstrators in the Occupied Territories dressed like Na’vi, the blue aliens of Avatar.) “The newer activism may be informed by newer stories,” Jenkins says. “Stories that matter deeply to the people who listen to them.” Listen to the NPR story.

$3 Million in Hawaii Grants for Innovative Nonprofit Ideas

A year ago eBay billionaires Pierre and Pam Omidyar donated 50 million dollars to the Hawaii Community Foundation. Now the Foundation has unveiled a unique granting program partly financed by the gift. It’s called the Island Innovation Fund. HPR’s Ben Markus has more.

How A Promise Led To Innovation: A Peanut Sheller

Be careful what kinds of promises you make. That’s a warning you might get from Jock Brandis, whose life was changed after he promised some African women he’d help them find a better way to shell their peanut crop.

That promise turned Brandis into a social entrepreneur — a man completely focused on developing better technology for poor farmers in the developing world. Hear more about this social enterprise story from NPR.